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Posts Tagged ‘mele’

MeLE F10 BT is a $20 Bluetooth Air Mouse and Keyboard

September 1st, 2015 4 comments

MeLE is mostly known as a manufacturer of Android TV boxes and air mice, and I use MeLE F10 Deluxe air mouse in all my Android mini PCs review, as even though it’s not perfect it does the job much better than an IR remote control, and is more convenient to use than a USB keyboard. The two MeLE air mouse I’ve purchased come with a 2.4GHz RF dongle that needs to be connected to a USB port of the device you want to control,  but now the company is now about to launch a Bluetooth model with MeLE F10 BT.

MeLE_F10_BT
MeLE F10 BT (RF01BL) specifications:

  • Connectivity – Bluetooth 4.0 (CSR1011)
  • IR support – Yes, including IR learning function.
  • Buttons Life – About 100,000 presses
  • Sensors – G-sensor, Gyroscope
  • Keyboard – QWERTY keyboard
  • Battery – 2x AAA batteries (>30 days in standby mode)
  • Dimensions – 169x48x19 mm

MeLE_F10_BT_BatteryBeside Bluetooth connectivity, the function are about the same as MeLE F10 Deluxe with a game mode (MeLE TV boxes only), IR learning function, a QWERTY keyboard, and air mouse mode. However, the built-in battery has been replace with a compartment for two AAA batteries. MeLE F10 BT is compatible with Windows 7/8/10, Mac, Linux, and Android operating systems.

The latest MeLE air mouse will sell for $19.99 including shipping on MeLE Aliexpress store once it launches in the middle of September.

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Windows 10 on MeLE PCG03, PCG01 and Other Intel Atom Z3735F Devices

August 12th, 2015 4 comments

For some reasons, after installing Ubuntu 15.04 on MeLE PCG03 a while ago, I had to re-install Windows 8.1 on the device. The backup I used with dd did not work, so I had to download the firmware from MeLE forums, and it worked OK. Right after the re-installation was complete, it asked me if I wanted to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, and I have given it a try, especially a few days ago somebody asked about Windows 10 on MeLE PCG01. So I’ll describe the update process on PCG03, show benchmarks results, and write about my experience with Kodi 15.0 in Windows 10.

Upgrading to Windows 10

Once you are ready to update to Windows 10, the system will check for updates, and ask whether you want to download and install Windows 10.

Windows_10_UpdateThe download is over 2GB large, so it may take a while. It took PCG03 around 2 to 3 hours to complete the download. Windows_10_ReadyOnce it’s done, Windows will let you know that “Your upgrade to Windows 10 is ready”, and ask you to reboot. I was expecting the installation to take one hour, but after 2 hours and thirty minutes, about 25% was completed, so I went to bed, and left it run overnight… In the morning, I just had to click a few more times, and Windows 10 was installed successfully.

Windows 10 Desktop (Click for Original Size)

Windows 10 Desktop (Click for Original Size)

Setup is mostly finished, but I soon got notified that after Windows 10 installation, as well as PCMark8 and Kodi, the eMMC flash was nearly full… and directed to Settings->Storage.

Windows_10_StorageThe reason being that Windows 10 keeps a copy of Windows 8.1 for a month just in case you decided to revert. This is all good on a PC with a large hard drive or SSD, but on a 32GB system, this becomes problematic. It’s easy to remove Windows 8.1.

  1. Click on This PC (C:)
  2. Wait until usage is shown, and scroll down to Temporary Files (in my case 10.5 GB)
  3. Click on Temporary Files to see more details.
    Windows_10_Delete_Previous_Version_of_Windows
  4. Finally click on “Delete previous versions” to recover over 10GB of storage. For some reasons I had to click there twice, as after the first click, and a few minutes processing the 10.1GB still showed. But finally, all worked, and I got 18.4GB free space.

Free_Space_Windows_10

Finally, I wanted to check whether the License status changed after installation, and the mini PC is still said to run an activated version of Windows. All Good!

Windows 10 Activated on MeLE PCG03 (Click to Enlarge)

Windows 10 Activated on MeLE PCG03 (Click to Enlarge)

Testing Windows 10

Everything appears to work as it should on Windows 10 including Ethernet, WiFi and Bluetooth, although after pairing with my Mediatek phone successfully, I failed to send a file over Bluetooth.

I’ve also run PCMark 8 and DiskCrytalMark to compare the results to the ones I got with Windows 8.1.

MeLE_PCG03_PCMark8_Win10_vs_Win8

PCMark 8 – Windows 8.1 vs Windows 10 (Click to Enlarge)

1105 points in Windows 8.1 against 1052 points in Windows 10 with Futuremark PCMark 8, so both results are quite similar as they should be.

CrystalDiskMark_Windows_8.1_vs_Windows_10

CrystalDiskMark results may not be directly comparable as Windows 8.1 was tested with version 3.0.3, and Windows 10 with the latest version 5.0.2. Only two tests share the same name between versions: “4K” and “Seq”, and results are indeed similar, with a non-negligible advantage in Windows 10 for the “4K” test, but it’s difficult to know if it’s because of improvement to the operating systems or the benchmark app itself, without re-installing Windows 8.1 and testing with CrystalDiskMark 5.0.2 again, which I won’t do…

But overall, Windows 10 upgrade from Windows 8.1 and such device is pretty straightforward, albeit it may take many hours, and performance should be expected to be similar.

Finally, I installed Kodi 15.0 from an earlier download, and a first I got the message “XBMC can’t load sqlite3.dll” when starting Kodi. But I re-downloaded Kodi 15 for Windows again, and the error message disappeared. I could play files from a USB hard drive, and an “open” SAMBA share, but I could not connect to a password-protected SAMBA share located on an Ubuntu 14.04 computer. I pllayed various 1080p and 4K videos, and as with Kodi 14 on Windows 8.1 results were very good, except for H.265 videos with are not supported by the platform.

What about MeLE PCG01? I tried to do the update too, but all I could do is reserve an update slot, and I have to be patient until Microsoft schedules the update for the TV stick. But MeLE told me Windows 10 is running OK on the stick:

We have upgrade PCG01 to Windows 10 Home Edition successfully. Note that we have also installed all the patches available for Windows 8.1 with Bing before we upgrade it to Windows 10 Home Edition.

As for drivers, you do not need to install extra drivers after you upgraded it to Window 10 Home Edition. Everything works fine until now in our office. For example we can intall 3DMark on PCG01 to test on Windows 10

The update should also work with most other Intel Atom Z3735F devices, although some dual boot devices may brick if you attempt the update, so be careful if you have such device. I’m also not sure what happens if you have a non-activated version of Windows 8.1 installed.

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Mini Review of MeLE PCG01 Intel HDMI TV Stick

August 5th, 2015 7 comments

I reviewed MeLE PCG03 mini PC powered by Intel Atom Z3735F processor at the beginning of the year, and there are now many different models from manufacturer which all come with the same processor, 2GB RAM, and 32GB storage either in box or stick form factor. MeLE also released their own Bay Trail stick, similar to Intel Compute Stick, called MeLE PCG01, which they sent me for review.

Most of these products are very similar, and all run Windows 8.1 by default, so the main differentiating factor between companies being price, whether they use a properly licensed version of Windows or not, and the thermal design of the enclosure, which may also impact performance as a good design will prevent CPU throttling. So in this review, after quickly checking the mini PC and accessories, I’ll take apart the device to check in more details what has been done to cool it, and follow up with some benchmarks and compare them to MeLE PCG03 results.

MeLE PCG01 Unboxing

I received the package via EMS Singapore in about 10 days after shipping.
MeLE_PCG01_Package
The stick comes with a USB OTG adapter, a female to female HDMI adapter in case you need to use an HDMI cable, a Quick Start Guide in English, and a 5V/2A power supply with US, UK, EU, and AU plug adapters which can really convenient for those who travel in various countries, and want to use the stick on the go.

PCG01 mini PC and Accessories (Click to enlarge)

PCG01 mini PC and Accessories (Click to enlarge)

The device’s enclosure has some “fins” on top, possibly for better cooling.

MeLE PCG01 (Click to Enlarge)

MeLE PCG01 (Click to Enlarge)

The interfaces are quite standard with one male HDMI output, two micro USB ports (one DC, one OTG), a USB 2.0 host port, a micro SD slot, and a power button. The external antenna differentiate PCG01 slightly from its competitors usually featuring an internal antenna.

I’ve also shot a short unboxing video.

 MeLE PCG01 Tear-down

With the right tools, it’s pretty easy to open the stick, as the bottom cover is simply clipped to the top one. Just start sliding a sharp tools in the small openings around the HDMI port to gently unclip the cover.

MeLE_PCG01_OpenThere’s a thin metallic plate with some thermal paste to provide heat conduction to the bottom of the plastic enclosure.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Again the metal shield will be easy removed, and we can see some of the components used for the stick like an RTC + battery, the usual Realtel RTL8723BS Wi-Fi + Bluetooth Bluetooth, and Samsung eMMC and DDR3 chips.

MeLE_PCG01_Copper_PlateAfter loosening and taking out two screws, I could remove the board from the case, and again some thermal paste is used to conduct heat to the between a metal plate (but this time maybe made of copper) to the plastic enclosure.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

I haven’t taken it apart further to avoid impacting the design, but there’s a thin white rubber? layer right under the metal place, and another metal shield made of the same material. So the company appears to have made efforts to dissipate heat as best as possible.

Setting Up MeLE PCG01

I’ve connected a bunch of peripheral to the stick including a USB hard drive, as well as a kerboard and mouse via a USB hub connected via the USB OTG adapter that comes with the device. Despite having only a 5V/2A power adapter, I never had troubles while running the device.

However, my first boot was quite disappointing as Windows 8.1 was setup with simplified Chinese language, while I expected the same wizard as with MeLE PCG03., which let me choose my language, and create an account. But with MeLE PCG01, there was already an account, and that’s what I could see when accessing the settings…

Control Panel in Chinese (Click to Enlarge)

Control Panel in Chinese (Click to Enlarge)

So I asked MeLE about this, and they told me: “You can change the languages as it has been already pre-installed with 16 languages kit in the settings which you do not need to download from the Internet.” Unfortunately, since the interface was in Chinese, it was not exactly straightforward to change. Luckily, I found the following instructions on Internet to change the language to English in Windows 8.1, and MeLE eventually provided screenshots to change the language, together with apologies for not changing the language to English after testing.

Once, I got a the language right, I went to “PC Info” to check the license status…

MeLE_PCG01_PC_Info… and the device indeed runs an activated version of Windows 8.1 with Bing.

MeLE PCG01 Benchmarks and Temperature

The next step is to check PCMark 8 and CrystalDiskMark benchmark results and compared then with the ones I got with the larger MeLE PCG03.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

MeLE PCG01 gets 1,116 points while PCG03 got 1,105 points for the same test, so both devices seem to perform as well. There’s a “time measurement data not available” warning however for the stick results, and I’m not sure if may have affected the results.

CrystalDiskMark_Mele_PCG01The Samsung flash used in the stick is also just as good as the ones in PCG03 with sequential read and write speeds of respectively 169MB/s and 76 MB/s (in CrystalDiskMark 5.0.2) against 165MB and 69MB/s for PCG03 (in CrystalDiskMark 3.0.3).

We’ve already seen Kodi works very well on Intel Atom Z3735F hardware either in Windows 8.1 or Ubuntu, but with some hardware such as PiPo X7, people noticed CPU throttling with some videos with high framerate, leading to poor video playback. So I tested two 1080p 60fps videos as well as a 2160p 24fps video in Kodi, and I could not notice any slowdown, but I still noted the maximum temperature I measured with an infrared thermometer.

Max Temperature
Case Top
Max Temperature
Case Bottom
Idle 63 °C 60 °C
Big Buck Bunny 1080p H.264 60 fps 80 °C 77 °C
Big Buck Bunny 1080p H.264 60 fps 3D 80 °C 78 °C
Sintel 4K H.264 24 fps 72 °C 69 °C

Although the videos played smoothly, the device got pretty hot at 80°C maximum while playing the 60fps videos, and with some other videos with different codec and/or bitrate, it might be that the system needs to slowdown a bit in order to cool down, but it’s not something that happens with the three test videos I used.

Conclusion

MeLE PCG01 is another Bay Trail-T TV dongle, but the company’s work on the thermal design seems to have paid off, as performance is just as good and stable as on larger devices which are supposed to handle heat better. The stick also comes with a proper license for Windows 8.1 Bing, and an external Wi-Fi antenna. Although I have not formally tested the latter, I used the Wi-Fi connection to download videos and benchmark applications, and it maxed out my Internet connection (11 Mbps) during download, without any loss of connection during the hour long download.

The biggest challenge for MeLE PCG01 may be its price, as they company asks for $169 including shipping on Amazon US, while Intel Compute stick, with virtually the same specs, goes for $153 also including shipping. However, MeLE does some regular promotions on their Aliexpress store, and  PCG01 is currently available for $126.75 for the next 4 days.

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MeLE PCG01 is a Windows 8.1 TV Stick with External WiFi Antenna, Optimized Thermal Design

May 24th, 2015 No comments

MeLE has released their own Intel Atom Z3735F HDMI TV Stick running Windows 8.1. MeLE PCG01 looks very much like MeegoPad T01, but the company claims to be the first to include an external Wi-Fi antenna, and they’ve worked on improving power dissipation.

MeLE_PCG01

MeLE PCG01 specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Atom Z3735F  “Bay Trail” quad core processor @ 1.33 GHz (Bust freq: 1.83 GHz) with Intel HD graphics Gen 7 (2W TDP)
  • System Memory – 2 GB DDR3L-1333
  • Storage – 32 GB eMMC (Class 5 up to 90MB/s) + micro SD slot
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi up to 300 Mbps and Bluetooth 4.0 with external antenna
  • USB – 2x micro USB port (including one for power only), 1x USB host port
  • Misc – Power button
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A via micro USB port.
  • Dimensions – 102 x 49 x 11.5mm
  • Weight – N/A

The mini PC runs Windows 8.1 with Bing NTE properly licensed and activated.

MeLE PCG01 Temperature Test Report (Click to Enlarge)

MeLE PCG01 Temperature Test Report (Click to Enlarge)

Thermal dissipation is achieved with a copper heatsink on the CPU, heat-conductive silicon rubber, and heat-insulative stickers on key components that should allow 24/7 operation, and the company released a “temperature rise test report” showing temperature is under control even after 13 hours of playing a high bitrate 1080p video.

MeLE PCG01 will eventually sell for $169, but pre-orders are $139 on Amazon US or Aliexpress.

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Various Ways to Control a mini PC without IR Receiver for HTPC Use

April 22nd, 2015 9 comments

Low cost Intel Bay Trail mini PCs such as Pipo X7, MeegoPad T01, MeLE PCG03, etc… almost all share one thing in common: they lack an IR receiver, and for people who’d like to use their box as a dedicated HTPC running Kodi for example, this could be a problem as connecting a keyboard might not the best of solutions. Since I’ve been asked about this recently, I’ve decided to dig into the issue to see what options could be available, and I also hope to trigger a discussion in comments to discover other interesting solutions.

RF Air Mouse

I’m using MeLE F10 Deluxe air mouse during my reviews, and such device can be used with HTPC. You just need to connect a tiny USB RF dongle to one of the USB ports of your mini PC, and you’d ready to go with having to configure anything. In Kodi, you would not use the air mouse function, but the remote mode is working well, and you can use the QWERTY side for the rare times when you need to input text.

Mele_F10_DeluxeThis type of device is compliant with USB HID class, so it should work with all common operating systems. MeLE F10 Deluxe sells for about $30, but you can also find cheaper model like Tronsmart TSM01 that goes for $17. Whatever air mouse you choose, make sure a play/pause button is included, as it’s not always a given.

Small form factor RF or Bluetooth Keyboards

If you don’t mind something a little bigger, but still smaller than a full-sized keyboard, a wireless Bluetooth or RF keyboard may be an option, such as the popular Logitech K400, which beside a keyboard also includes a multi-touch touchpad.

Logiteck_K400It should also be easy to setup, as you just need to connect the “USB unifying receiver” to your mini PC, and you’re good to go. Logitech K400 costs $25 on Amazon US. I also mentioned iPazzport KP-810-35BTT Bluetooth keyboard recently with backlit keys, and a touchpad that can be used as a numpad.

USB IR Remotes

If you don’t need something too fancy, and just want to control Kodi with the arrow keys and enter most of the time, you could get a USB IR remote. The cheapest one could be SANOXY Wireless USB PC remote control / mouse that sells for $5 on Amazon US.

Sanoxy_5_Dollars_Remote_ControlThe remote is said to be driverless, so even though the specs says it only works with Windows, it should also work with Linux or other operating systems. You just need to connect the USB IR receiver into a USB port of your mini PC, and it should work. In case of issues, you may have to double check  “Remote control sends keyboard presses” is enabled in “Input Devices” menu. Reviews are mixed on Amazon with some people saying it works great for the price, while others complained it only lasted a few weeks, and the range is 10 feet (3 meters) max.

Use your TV or AV Receiver Remote Control with HDMI CEC

HDMI CEC allows you to control multiple devices over HDMI using a single remote control, and in theory you could use your TV or AV receiver remote control to control Kodi on your mini PC. Unfortunately, HDMI CEC is not usually implemented in computers, but there’s a workaround thanks to HDMI USB CEC adapters such as the one provided by Pulse Eight.

USB_HDMI_CEC_AdapterIt looks pretty straightforward to use: connect the HDMI out and USB port to your mini PC, and the HDMI IN part to your TV or AV receiver, and it will be automatically detected in Kodi, and you should be good to go.

You can buy on Pulse Eight website directly for $44.60, and it’s also available on Amazon US for $49, where you’ll find mixed reviews. I’ve also tried to find Chinese clones / alternatives, but without success.

Remote App with an Android Smartphone

A final way to control your HTPC is to use your smartphone, or if you prefer recycle one of your old smartphone, with a remote control app such as Yatse.

Yatse_Kodi_Remote_ControlThis may not be as easily to use as the other solution above, but it should be much more powerful feature-wise.

That’s all I could come up with, so I’m now eagerly waiting for your suggestions, or just let us know what you use.

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Kodi 14.2 Linux Tested on MeLE PCG03 with Ubuntu 15.04

April 7th, 2015 No comments

I’ve already tested Kodi 14.1 on MeLE PCG03 running Windows 8.1, with the Intel Atom Z3735F device performing greatly for 1080p videos, working DTS and Dolby pass-through (no HD Audio though) and automatic frame rate switching working at all frequencies I tested. Later I installed Lubuntu 15.04 on the mini PC, and I had planned to test Kodi 14.x in Linux to compare the performance in Windows 8.1. Unfortunately, I did not manage to mak HDMI audio, nor the audio jack work in Linux, so instead I purchased a cheap USB sound card from DealExtreme for around $2 US, and connected a pair of USB powered speakers to enable audio output.

Kodi 14.2 in MeLE PCG03 (Click for Original Size)

Kodi 14.2 in MeLE PCG03 (Click for Original Size)

The USB sound card performs pretty well, and out of the 80 or so videos I used for testing, only one had some saturation issues likely due to the sound card itself. I installed Kodi 14.2 using the recommended instructions for Ubuntu:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:team-xbmc/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install kodi

The refresh rate indicated in the System Information section oscillates around 30 fps, or a bit lower than the ~45 fps I got in Windows 8.1.

Unless otherwise noted, all videos has been played from a SAMBA share over an Ethernet connection. My findings should also be applicable to other Intel Atom Z3735F / Z3736F based mini PCs such as MeegoPad T01PiPo X7, or MINIX NEO Z64 provided you’ve also booted a Linux distribution on the devices. The only potential difference is thermal management, where devices that dissipate heat better may be able to sustain a constant frame rate for a longe period of time, especially for 60 fps videos. That’s also one of the reason you may want to switch from Windows 8.1 to Linux, as reported by one reader with Pipo X7, but personally I have not noticed slowdown on MeLE PCG03 for any videos.

The computer was connected to LG 42UB820T 4K Ultra HD television via HDMI, but the resolution was set to 1920×1080, the maximum supported by the hardware.

I’ve first played videos samples from samplemedia.linaro.org, some H.265/HEVC videos (Elecard), and a low resolution VP9 video:

  • H.264 codec / MP4 container (Big Buck Bunny), 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • MPEG2 codec / MPG container, 480p/720p/1080p – OK. But Kodi reports decoding at 24 fps, instead of the video native 25 fps.
  • MPEG4 codec, AVI container 480p/720p/1080p – OK, but the live framerate is around 24fps instead of 25 fps.
  • VC1 codec (WMV), 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • Real Media (RMVB), 720p / 5Mbps – RV8, RV9, and RV10 – OK
  • WebM / VP8 – OK
  • H.265 codec / MPEG TS container – 360p, 720p and 1080p – OK
  • WebM / VP9 (no audio in video) – OK

Linux seems to perform a bit better than Windows 8.1, especially as it can handle 720p and 1080p H.265 / HEVC video with were hardly watchable in videos. Real Media framerate is also more constant, but MPEG4 is not set at exactly to 25 fps like in Windows, something that’s not really noticeable to me.

Time for some higher bitrate videos:

  • ED_HD.avi – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_1080p_surround.avi (1080p H.264 – 12 Mbps) – OK.
  • h264_1080p_hp_4.1_40mbps_birds.mkv (40 Mbps) – OK
  • hddvd_demo_17.5Mbps_1080p_VC1.mkv (17.5Mbps) – Most of the time OK, but plays at 18 to 24 fps instead of 29.970 fps
  • Jellyfish-120-Mbps.mkv (120 Mbps video without audio) – OK (using USB hard drive)

HDDVD video plays better in Windows 8.1 here as it could achieve a stable 24 fps.

High definition audio codecs below have only been tested using PCM downsampling, simply because HDMI audio is not working, and there’s no S/PDIF output. I’ll update the post with HDMI audio pass-through with Onkyo TX-NR636 AV receiver, once a software fix can be applied for HDMI audio.

Video’s Audio Codec PCM Output HDMI Pass-through SPDIF Pass-through
AC3 / Dolby Digital 5.1 OK Not tested No S/PDIF Output on MeLE PCG03
E-AC-3 / Dolby Digital+ 5.1 OK Not tested
Dolby Digital+ 7.1 OK Not tested
TrueHD 5.1 Audio cuts and slow mo at the end Not tested Audio Formats Not Supported over S/PDIF
TrueHD 7.1 OK Not tested
DTS HD Master OK Not tested
DTS HD High Resolution Slow motion video Not tested

While Kodi 14.1 in Windows 8.1 had no problems at all with all videos using PCM downsampling, Kodi 14.2 Linux struggled to play all videos perfectly.

Sintel-Bluray.iso could play fine, so unencrypted Bluray ISO are supported. My two 1080i MPEG2 videos (GridHD.mpg & Pastel1080i25HD.mpg) could also play, but GridHD.mpg image sparkled (correct word here?). I’ve also been asked to test 10-bit H.264 1080p videos, but I could only find a 10-bit H.264 720p video sample ([Commie] Steins;Gate – NCED [BD 720p AAC] [10bit] [C706859E].mkv) which played flawlessly.

4K video output is not supported by the hardware, however the Atom processor can decode some 4K videos (e.g. H.264 codec), but newer H.265 and VP9 codec can’t be handled at that resolution:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – Plays, but not so smooth (18 fps instead of 29.97 fps)
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv – OK
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – Kodi reports ~12 fps, but feels even slower
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – Kodi reports ~12 fps, but feels even slower
  • Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts (H.265) – Won’t play at all (stays in XBMC UI)
  • MHD_2013_2160p_ShowReel_R_9000f_24fps_RMN_QP23_10b.mkv (10-bit HEVC) – Slow motion: 9 to 12 fps instead of 24 fps.
  • phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – Plays at about 13 fps.
  • BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video) – Won’t play at all (stays in XBMC UI)

Performance is quite similar between Ubuntu 15.04 and Windows 8.1, except for the “Chimei” video which played well in Windows, but not so smoothly in Linux.

Despite my TV not supporting 3D, I’ve also played some 3D videos to check video decoding capabilities:

  • bbb_sunflower_1080p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (1080p Over/Under) – 25 fps instead of 60 fps, and audio cuts.
  • bbb_sunflower_2160p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (2160p Over/Under) – Plays at about 8 fps, and frequent audio cuts.
  • Turbo_Film-DreamWorks_trailer_VO_3D.mp4 (1080p SBS) – OK

Disappointment here for Kodi Linux, as in Windows the 1080p over/under video could play fine at 60 fps. The other two videos have about the same results.

All my AVI, MKV, FLV, VOB, IFO and MP4 videos could play smoothly, and without A/V sync issues. However, while in Windows I had a very stable live framerate reported in Kodi debug overlay, it was fluctuating a bit more in Linux. I’m not entirely sure if it is just the way the frame rate is reported, or if there are real differences between the two, as videos seemed smooth in Linux too.

In Windows 8.1, I was also to play a full 1080p movie (1h50 / MKV / 3GB), with Kodi reporting only 1 skipped frame over the whole movie, instead of the usual 14,000 or so skipped frames in Android. Kodi 14.2 in Ubuntu was also very good with that regards as only 2 skipped frame where reported… in my second try. The first try ended up after just over 30 minutes as the complete system froze, requiring a hard reboot. PCG03 froze another time as Kodi was idle, but maybe it’s because I’m using Ubuntu 15.04 Development Branch…

Finally I tested automatic frame rate switching with some motion bars video at different frame rates. First, I went to Settings->Video, changed the Settings level to Advanced, and set Adjust display refresh rate to match video to On start/stop. The results I got are exactly the same as in Windows 8.1, and this feature works very well. The “Video Output” is what shows when I press the Info button on the remote control of my TV:

  • 23.976 fps video -> Video Output: 1080p24
  • 24 fps video -> Video Output: 1080p24
  • 25 fps video -> Video Output: 1080p50
  • 30 fps video -> Video Output: 1080p60
  • 50 fps video -> Video Output: 1080p50
  • 59.94 fps video -> Video Output: 1080p60
  • 60 fps video -> Video Output: 1080p60

Kodi 14.x performance in Windows 8.1 and Linux (Ubuntu) is quite similar in MeLE PCG03, but it looks like the GUI is rendered at a higher framerate in Windows, and the live framerate reported in Kodi debug overlay is more stable for most videos in Windows too. I’ve also had some stability issues in Linux with two system hangs, and two of the videos I use for audio codec testing did not play very smoothly. One advantage in Linux, or maybe Kodi 14.2, is that H.265 up to 1080p plays smoothly, something that was not feasible in Kodi 14.1 in Windows 8.1 when I tried last January.

If you want to experiment yourself, you can download the video samples used for my reviews. Mostly check the links in comments section.

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MeLE F10 Lite is an Air Mouse with Keyboard using 2x AAA Batteries

March 19th, 2015 4 comments

MeLE has several models of air mouse, and they are great to use with Android mini PCs, and sometimes I also use these with my regular PC. I started with the original MeLE F10, but then switched to MeLE F10 Deluxe which provides a better pointer control. It’s not perfect as game mode only works with MeLE media devices, I could never make the IR learning function work, and the pointer tends to jump when I press the OK button, so I’m using the mouse button for clicks instead as it does not suffer from this issue. Nevertheless, MeLE F10 Deluxe is still the device I prefer to use during my mini PCs and boards’ reviews. Previous MeLE F10 air mice all comes with a built-in battery, but some people prefer to use standard batteries, and that’s just what the latest MeLE F10 Lite uses, with other features similar to the Deluxe version.

MeLE_F10_LiteMeLE F10 Lite hardware specification:

  • Radio – 2.4GHz RF; distance: 10 meters
  • Sensors – G-sensor, 6-axis gyroscope
  • QWERTY Keyboard and remote buttons with 100,000 presses lifespan
  • Power – 2x AAA batteries; auto-sleep time: 2 minutes

The remote ships with a tiny RF dongle, and a user’s manual. The QWERTY keyboard appears to be the same as on the Deluxe version, but the remote side has sadly lost the play/pause, FFWD, and FRWD buttons, and only supports one device for the IR learning function instead for three. Beside Android, the input device can also be used with Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10 and Mac OS X.

MeLE F10 Lite can be pre-ordered for $24.99 on Aliexpress, but you should be able to lower that to $19.99 with a $5 discount that you can get on the Aliexpress page. The official price for Lite is $24.99, and Deluxe is $34.99, but if you may also purchase the Deluxe version for $26.99 on GeekBuying.

Via AndroidPC.es

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Categories: Android, Hardware, Linux Tags: Android, Linux, mele, windows

Calaos is an Open Source Home Automation Suite for Raspberry Pi, Allwinner A10/A20 and x86 Platforms

March 9th, 2015 No comments

Calaos is a Linux based home automation software released under GPLv3 license that works on Raspberry Pi, some Allwinner platforms like Cubiebaord 1/2, Mele A1000(G)/A2000, as well as x86 / amd64 hardware platforms that allows you control switches & lights in the rooms of your home or office, control your music, and manage security cameras.. The developers have recently released Calaos v2.0, the first stable release, so it’s a good time to have a look.

Calaos WebApp

Calaos WebApp

The software stack is comprised of 6 main components:

  • Calaos Server – Daemon that exports the state of the house via a JSON protocol. It can currently manage the following hardware components and protocols:
    Calaos Mobile

    Calaos Mobile

    • Wago’s PLC, with digital or analog I/O, DALI or DMX light bus
    • IPX800 web relay board
    • GCE Electronics Eco Devices used to monitor power consumption.
    • Web API
    • 1-Wire, X10
    • Zibase I/O
    • GPIO (Linux based GPIO, for direct use of RaspberryPI GPIO header) ;
    • Squeezebox
    • Nabaztag (Karotz). That’s a connected Wi-Fi enabled rabbit :)
    • CCTV IP (Axis, Mjpeg…)
  • Calaos Home –  Touchscreen interface to control the home, developed with EFL.
  • Calaos WebApp –  Web based interface implemented in HTML5 and using Angular JS and Bootstrap. Shown in screenshot above.
  • Calaos OS –  Linux distribution based on Openembedded pre-loaded with Calaos Server, Calaos Home and Calaos WebApp and relevant tools. That’s what you’ll need to get started easily, as you just need to download the image for your hardware.
  • Calaos Mobile – Qt5/QML app for Android and iOS tablet and smartphones that allows you to control Calaos remotely. However, only a subset of functions are available compared to Calaos Home.
  • Calaos Installer – Contrary to what the name implies, this Qt5 app does not install Calaos, but allows you to configure Calaos Server remotely, by adding, removing or modifying inputs/outputs on your PC, instead of editing configuration files manually. It also supports LUA scripts
Calaos Installer

Calaos Installer

You can have a better look at the user interface in the video section of the website, and I’ve also included a short video showing the Raspberry Pi connected to a 10″ touchscreen LCD  running Calaos Home.

You can find more details, and documentation on Calaos website, including a Quick Start Guide for the Raspberry Pi. The source code is available on Calaos github account.

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